Hello from Bordeaux!
I have compiled a list of some of my favorite French women who have not only shaped France, but shaped the world!
Many of these women you may know, others you may not, still I wanted to give you a brief HERstory.
Eleanor of Aquitaine
She birthed dynasties!
Mother and Grandmother to future Kings and Queens, (mother to Richard the Lionheart and John, both Kings of England) Eleanor was first married to the King of France, and later the King of England. She was married in St. Andre Catheral, which still stands in all of its beauty and glory in central Bordeaux. Eleanor was was born in or near Bordeaux, France and lived until the ripe old age of 82.
She was the most powerful woman in 12th century Europe.
Born in Domrémy, a village located in the East of France, to farmers, Jeanne lived several lifetimes before being burned at the stake at the young age of 19. Jeanne led the French army to several victories against the English during the Hundred Years' War, which finally lead to the coronation of Charles VII of France. It was said that Micheal the archangel, St. Catherine and St. Margaret, appeared to her and told her to drive out the English and bring the Dauphin to Reims for his coronation. She was canonized in the 1920s and is considered one of the patron saints of France and my personal heroine!
"I believe that Science has great beauty. A scientist in his laboratory is not a mere technician; he is also a child confronting natural phenomena that impress him as though they were fairy tales."
Born in Poland and against Russian law to be educated, Marie's parents sent her to an illegal 'floating' school, it changed locations often to avoid the authorities, before she moved to Paris to continue her studies. There she met and married her lab partner Pierre, and their work in science changed the world as we know it!
Marie had many firsts in her life, including the first woman to receive a doctorate in France, the first woman to teach at the Sorbonne, the first person to use the term radioactivity, she also developed X-rays and changed our understanding of the atomic world.
She was also the first to win two Noble prizes in two different fields, chemistry and physics. Also, the notebooks that she kept are kept under lock and key because they are too radioactive to handle.
She is the voice of France. Born in 1915 and abannoned a year later by her father, she was raised in a brothel in Normandy by her grandmother and watched over by the prostitutes. From age three to seven, she was blind due to keratitis, but was cured after a pilgrimage (money was pooled by the prostitutes) honoring St. Thérèse of Lisieux.
At 14, she joined her father in street perfomances, where she first sang in public. Six years later, she was discovered by a nightclub owner, Louis Leplée, and became an overnight sensation, despite having extreme nervousness and stage fright. Leplée taught her the basics of stange presence and told her to wear a black dress, which became her signatures. Not only was she popular in France, (and part of the French Resistance during WWII) she appeared on The Ed Sullivan show eight different times and at Carnegie Hall twice.
Her signature song is, 'La vie en rose.'
You know her and if you don't, then you know her by association!
She is considered THE writer of France. She penned the book, Gigi, which later became Hollywood success and discovered Audrey Hepburn, who played Gigi on Broadway. During her lifetime, she penned 50 novels with themes of relationships and love.
Known for her lust for life and tasty adventures, Colette was a member of the Belgain Royal Academy, president and the first woman to be admitted into the Académie Goncourt, and a Chevalier and a Grand Officier of the Légion d'honneur.
I was forturnate enough to pay my respects to her and Edith, who are both buried at Pére Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
"A woman must be two things: classy and fabulous."
Brought up in an orphanage and raised by nuns (who taught her how to sew) Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel changed the fashion game. She started out making hats and thanks to a 'jersey dress' refashioned out of her lover's dress shirt because it was cold outside, it launched her fashion empire. She introduced timeless pieces, including: the 'little black dress,' she was also the first to launch a perfume, (the first perfume to feature a designer's name) and created the iconic Chanel suit.
Simone de Beauvoir
Born in Paris to a bourgeois family, Beauvoir was a writer, political activist, and could have written the book on feminism. She is known for her novels, She Came to Stay, The Mandarins, as well as
The Second Sex, an analysis of women's oppression. The book argues that men made women the "other" in society by placing a false "mystery" around them, thus using it as an excuse not to understand women or their problems, and not help them. Raised a devout Catholic, she even considered becoming a nun, until she experienced a crisis of faith at 14, after which she remained an atheist until her death. She died of pneumonia in Paris at the age of 78, and is buried next to Jean-Paul Sartre, her long time friend, collaborator and lover.
Nin was an American author, born to Spanish-Cuban parents in France. She is known for her journals and her published diaries, which span several decades, and her erotic writings, including Henry and June, Little Birds and House of Incent.
She is considered one of the finest writers of female erotica, and is the first women to fully explore the realm of erotic writing.
She died in Los Angeles, California after a three-year battle with cancer.
"I feel so happy when I'm flying. Perhaps it is the feeling of power, the pleasure of dominating a machine as beautiful as a throughobred horse. Mingled with these basic joys is another less primitive feeling, that of a mission accomplished. Each time I set foot on an airfield, I sense with fresh excitement that this is where I belong."
Although an extremely male-dominated career choice even today, Auriol got her pilot license in 1946, then in 1950, she went to get her military pilot license. Ariol become the first female test pilot, one of the first women to break the sound barrier and set 5 world speed records in the 50's and 60's.
She also wrote her autobiography, I Live to Fly in 1970.
We all know the story of Marie, and if you don't well, just know the poor rich Queen lost her head when all was said and done.
Born in Austria, she married Louis-Auguste, Dauphin of France. After seven years of marriage, she gave birth to a daughter, the first of four children.
At first, the French were charmed by her, however due to politics and public opinion, hostility towards her grew (and grew and grew) and eventually lead to the French Revolution. She was found guilty of treason on October 16th and on that same day, she was executed by guillotine in present-day Place de la Concorde. Her last words were, "Pardon me sir, I meant not to do it," to Henri Sanson the executioner because she accidently stepped on his foot after climbing the scaffold.
Bonjour et Bienvenue!
Thank you for stopping by for a spell!
I am a 40-something year old American woman. Born in Texas, raised in Las Vegas!
Frenchified for Life
is a fabulous little lifestyle blog about truly embracing French life!
My intent is to simply inspire you to create something unique and beautiful in your everyday life. The French have this wonderful and annoying habit of seeing the world through rose colored glasses, might as well learn something from them!
That said, I lift my glass to you!
By the way, I mention the name Cachou (or The Cash) a lot, I'm referring to her...